134

The Military Militarily, the south did not need to win the war by invading and defeating the north. Their belief was that they just had to hold on to what they had, hence their largely defensive strategy. Despite a marked numerical inferiority, the south believed (correctly, at least in the early stages) it had better leaders and better soldiers. Davis ...


80

Yes and No. What appears to be true is that the King of Siam did send a letter offering a herd of elephants to the US President in 1861. According to the US National Archives King Mongkut said that he had heard that the United States had no elephants. As a remedy, he offered a gift of elephants—several pairs of them—that could be "turned loose in ...


55

The American Civil War doesn't even pass the test of the bloodiest civil war in the Americas. This dubious honor is held by the Mexican Revolution of 1910, with between 1 and 2 million casualties. It also isn't even the bloodiest war in American history if only combat casualties are considered - 214,938 Civil War combat casualties vs. 291,557 during WWII ...


52

@Peter Diehr's answer is a good one and I've upvoted it - but I'd like to expand on that, remembering that Lincoln was a very good strategist. First, The Civil War was about slavery, and the South's (correct) understanding was that the North was growing faster than it was and free states would sooner or later substantially outnumber slave states. (Some of ...


46

No, slavery was not on its way out. Historians like Dunning and Phillip are writing half a century before the cliometric revolution in economic history, which has completely changed how we view this question. Fogel and Engerman's 1974 "Time on the Cross" was quite influential in showing how profitable slavery was for those who practiced it. In particular, ...


46

I do not think it is accurate to say that guerilla techniques weren't used in the Civil War. What did Stonewall Jackson do in the Shenandoah Valley? But guerilla tactics are limited. First, they are adequate in defensive struggle, conducted within your own territory, where you count with superior knowledge of the terrain, and the loyalty of the local ...


46

tl;dr Modern industrial warfare pushes the economy to 100% utilization; this cures the effect of an economic downturn (which is effectively suboptimal economic utilization). Wars in general, and the civil war in particular create stimulus spending - governments buy bullets and boots. Governments drive the economy to 100% utilization. Unemployment ...


45

The bloodiest civil war I can think of is the Taiping Rebellion in 19th century China. That conflict is generally thought to have a death toll of 20 million. Note that this is an estimate made by western observers. There are claims in China that the conflict killed several times that (by population records, Jiangsu went from 42 million to 20 million, and ...


41

The tensions between North and South had been growing since long before Lincoln was elected. While it is true than many in the South believed that Lincoln supported the forced suppression of slavery, his election as a Republican president was simply the trigger for secession. The story of John Brown's raid on Harper's Ferry in Virginia in October 1859 ...


40

Since it only applied to areas that didn't recognize Federal authority, the snarky take on the Emancipation Proclamation has always been that it didn't itself free a single slave. Like a lot of famous snark, this isn't entirely true. The US Army had already been given the authority to free any slaves it came across in Confederate territory as Contraband of ...


36

Generally speaking, swords were not much used during the civil war due to lack of training, lack of quality swords and lack of well-trained horses (plus, of course, improvements in firearms), but there were some notable encounters nonetheless. While swords were used by officers to signal, sometimes for ceremonial saluting and (by infantry with low-quality ...


34

It might be a Confederate flag, specifically the Van Dorn battle flag: Quoting its wikipedia description: The Van Dorn battle flag is a historical Confederate flag with a red field depicting a white crescent moon in the canton and thirteen white stars; and trimmed with gold cord. In February, 1862, Confederate general Earl Van Dorn ordered that all units ...


33

Its not quite that simple. Since the process typically relies on evaporating out water from pools, it turns out you either need a somewhat reliably sunny climate to do this, or you have to set up a lot of extra large boilers. So some places are much better than others to set up shop. That being said, the South did in fact have large-scale salterns they ...


32

Grant did not fight a war of attrition against Lee in Virginia. Grant fought a war of maneuver against Lee, attempting again and again to pass Lee's right and get between him and Richmond. Lee repeatedly countered these maneuvers, turning each one into a bloody confrontation and repulse; but that was not Grant's chief aim. Any look at a map of the ...


32

No, not even close. Alan T Nolan lists this as one of the components of the Lost Cause Myth in his essay "The Anatomy of the Myth", collected in the book The Myth of the Lost Cause and Civil War History (ed by Gary Gallagher and Nolan). McPherson says in Battle Cry that slavery was more firmly entrenched in 1860 than it had been in 1820. By 1860 the "...


32

Whilst it's an interesting topic, unfortunately, the questions, answers, definitions and many facts are entirely incorrect. Lets address some of the inaccuracies first and see if we can drill down to what the author is driving at. My understanding (which could be wrong) is that armies in the U.S. civil war were "bloody" in the sense that soldiers did not ...


29

He was captured and held over for trial in 1865 but eventually was released when full amnesty was declared by Johnson in 1868. The wording of the amnesty proclamation gives Johnson's reasons and rationale for granting it: Whereas the authority of the Federal Government having been reestablished in all the States and Territories within the jurisdiction ...


29

The vast wealth of the Southern plantations was intrinsically tied up with their ability to generate a fabulous annual income, at low risk. Once the Union blockade was established by autumn 1861 those income streams shrank, the associated risk rose, and the value of those plantations, dropped to a tiny fraction of the ante bellum value. For a perpetuity (...


29

Lincoln waited until there was a great union victory; the early losses, and the poor showing of the Union generals did not give him a very firm place to stand and make promises. Antietam was the victory he was waiting for, and a preliminary declaration was issued at that time. See this History channel article on the Emancipation Proclamation for further ...


27

This article on the civil war's more advanced rifles highlights that: Most American army officers in 1861 had been schooled in obsolete Napoleonic tactics, especially since many of them had served in the Mexican War, which was still fought in the old way with smoothbore muskets and linear formations. The casualties themselves and the bloodiness of the ...


26

This was an ongoing problem with musket armed soldiery; in the Peninsular and Napoleonic wars, in-experienced infantry often shot high, and given that Brown Bess was the standard musket for the British Army from 1722, presumably an issue at least since then. As such I am doubtful whether the sights of Springfield rifles are a key factor in this problem! At ...


25

First off, the Civil War went a lot deeper than slavery. Ever since the foundation of the United States of America, there was enmity between the North and the South. The two regions had radically different cultures, which made it hard for them to get along. The South had a much smaller population, fewer large cities, and was overall rural. The North was full ...


23

Lincoln needed to write this letter because as a war-time president, two months before the mid-term election, he could not ignore an article in one of the most popular newspapers, written by a very popular and influential member of his own party, demanding dramatic changes in government policy. Citizens needed to know for whom they are voting; soldiers ...


22

I believe this is referring to the gag rule (aka: Pickney Resolution 3) of the US House, adopted in 1836. It read: Resolved, That all petitions, memorials, resolutions, propositions, or papers, relating in any way or to any extent whatever to the subject of slavery, or the abolition of slavery, shall, without being either printed or referred, be ...


22

The simple answer is that General Lee didn't want to see his men destroyed. There was correspondence between Generals Lee and Grant in the days before the actual surrender, as both recognized the disparity of position between Lee's Army and the larger, better supplied Union Army that kept pushing him west, away from Richmond and away from supply. Prelude ...


19

The soldiers and officers of all Confederate Armies were exempted from treason trials by the terms of Lee's surrender to Grant. They were allowed to go home unmolested as long as they ceased to make war on the US. All other CSA forces soon surrendered on the same terms and also were exempt from treason trials. Government officials were not exempt, and ...


19

McClellan had been a popular commander on several counts. He had come to command the Army of the Potomac after winning two small victories in the modern West Virginia in 1861, which was two more victories than any other Union commander up to that time, and led to that state rejoining the Union. McClellan was a great "book" commander, having graduated second ...


18

My understanding (which could be wrong) is that armies in the U.S. civil war were "bloody" in the sense that soldiers did not retreat or were sent directly into fire, until one side was wiped out. If I'm wrong about that please correct me. Something to keep in mind is the scale at which battles took place in the Civil War. Battles were significantly larger ...


17

According to The Big Book of Gun Trivia, of the 24000 loaded muskets recovered after the Battle of Gettysburg, a quarter were properly loaded, half were double loaded, and the last quarter were multiple (>2) loaded. A further 11000 were unloaded. Research (http://www.policyscience.net/ws/marshall.pdf among others) has shown that combat soldiers in past ...


Only top voted, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible